National Security Space Strategy Targets Safety, Stability

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2011 — The Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Space Strat­e­gy released today responds to the real­i­ties of a space envi­ron­ment that is increas­ing­ly crowd­ed, chal­leng­ing and com­pet­i­tive, said senior Defense Depart­ment offi­cials.

“The Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Space Strat­e­gy rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant depar­ture from past prac­tice,” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said in a DOD news release issued today. “It is a prag­mat­ic approach to main­tain the advan­tages we derive from space while con­fronting the new chal­lenges we face.”

Ambas­sador Gre­go­ry L. Schulte, the deputy sec­re­tary of defense for space pol­i­cy, told the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel and Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice that this is the first nation­al secu­ri­ty space strat­e­gy co-signed by the sec­re­tary of defense and the direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence.

“Space has changed in fun­da­men­tal ways, and that requires us to change our strat­e­gy,” Schulte said. Gates and Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James R. Clap­per “have signed a doc­u­ment that shows the new direc­tions we need to go,” he added.

The 10-year strat­e­gy con­cludes the con­gres­sion­al­ly man­dat­ed Space Pos­ture Review by pro­vid­ing strate­gic objec­tives and approach­es for nation­al secu­ri­ty space. The Defense Depart­ment and the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty sub­mit­ted an inter­im report to Con­gress in March that delayed a review of nation­al secu­ri­ty space pol­i­cy and objec­tives until after the release of the U.S. Nation­al Space Pol­i­cy in June.

Per­haps the strategy’s most impor­tant mes­sage, Schulte said, “is that we have to think dif­fer­ent­ly about how we oper­ate in space.” For exam­ple, he said, “we have to think about how to encour­age oth­er coun­tries to act respon­si­bly in space and how the Unit­ed States can pro­vide lead­er­ship in that regard. “Sec­ond­ly,” he added, “we have to think about how we can bet­ter lever­age the grow­ing amount of for­eign com­mer­cial capa­bil­i­ties that are now in space. And third, we need to think dif­fer­ent­ly about how to deter oth­ers from attack­ing our space assets.”

As in the past, he said, the Defense Depart­ment must pro­tect space capa­bil­i­ties to pro­tect the warfight­er, whether it’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions, sur­veil­lance or glob­al posi­tion­ing. “It’s space that allows our sol­diers to see over the next hill,” Schulte said. “It’s space that allows us to com­mu­ni­cate quick­ly. It’s space that allows us to see whether hos­tile mis­siles are launched, so we need to pre­serve that capa­bil­i­ty.

“Our goal is to make the peace­ful use of space avail­able to all coun­tries,” he added, not­ing that the peace­ful use of space includes sup­port for crit­i­cal defense capa­bil­i­ties. “Space becomes crit­i­cal to every­thing we do, and that’s why we’re wor­ried that the envi­ron­ment is increas­ing­ly chal­leng­ing,” Schulte said. “You have more debris in space and you have coun­tries that are devel­op­ing coun­ter­space capa­bil­i­ties that can be used against us. That’s why this strat­e­gy empha­sizes the need to pro­tect our capa­bil­i­ties, pro­tect our indus­tri­al base and pro­tect the space domain itself.”

U.S. Strate­gic Com­mand offi­cials at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., are work­ing with oth­er coun­tries and com­mer­cial firms to increase sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness in space. “Strat­com was once in charge of deliv­er­ing nuclear weapons,” Schulte said. “Strat­com is now also deliv­er­ing warn­ings of poten­tial col­li­sions in space to any vari­ety of coun­tries because we have an inter­est in pre­vent­ing more col­li­sions and more debris.”

The mil­i­tary also must begin to con­sid­er oper­at­ing in coali­tions in space, he said.

“In just about every oth­er domain — at sea, in the air, on the ground — we oper­ate with allies and part­ners. There are good rea­sons to do it,” Schulte said.

Poten­tial part­ners include mem­bers of NATO, whose new 10-year strate­gic con­cept issued last year “acknowl­edged for the first time that access to space is some­thing you can’t take for grant­ed,” he said.

The Joint Space Oper­a­tions Cen­ter at Van­den­berg Air Force Base, Calif., is a focal point for the oper­a­tional use of world­wide U.S. space forces, Schulte said, and it allows the com­man­der of Stratcom’s joint func­tion­al com­po­nent com­mand for space to inte­grate space pow­er into glob­al mil­i­tary oper­a­tions.

“We would like to make that into a [com­bined cen­ter],” Schulte said, “where we bring in our clos­est allies and even­tu­al­ly oth­ers, so that like in oth­er domains, we can con­duct com­bined oper­a­tions.”

The 10-year Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Space Strat­e­gy will require at least that long to imple­ment, he said.

“You will see some ear­ly indi­ca­tions of it in the president’s bud­get for 2012, and you will see more in his bud­get for 2013, but ulti­mate­ly what we’re try­ing to do is affect pro­grams of the ser­vices, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Air Force, over the longer term,” Schulte said. “We’re try­ing to affect how we train, we’re try­ing to affect how we plan, and we’re try­ing to affect the diplo­ma­cy we con­duct with the Depart­ment of State. So I think you’ll see [the strat­e­gy] roll out in many dif­fer­ent ways. In fact, you’re already see­ing ele­ments of it.”

On Jan. 6, Gates announced that he would use some of the effi­cien­cy sav­ings Air Force offi­cials iden­ti­fied to invest in the U.S. launch capa­bil­i­ty to help in pro­tect­ing the indus­tri­al base, Schulte said.

Defense Depart­ment offi­cials are work­ing Aus­tralia on shar­ing of space sit­u­a­tion­al aware­ness and are talk­ing to the com­mer­cial sec­tor about how DOD can host pay­loads on their satel­lites, he said. “And we’re look­ing for a whole range of activ­i­ties to imple­ment the new strat­e­gy in a bud­get-con­strained envi­ron­ment,” he added Schulte said to get DOD orga­nized for space, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III cre­at­ed the Space Defense Coun­cil, to be chaired by Air Force Sec­re­tary Michael B. Don­ley. “The sec­re­tary and the deputy have entrust­ed to Sec­re­tary Don­ley the role of mov­ing for­ward with our strat­e­gy,” he said, “and the Defense Space Coun­cil pro­vides a forum to do that.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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